Oh Oh It’s Magic PT 7 uh PT 2 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, 2011)

Harry_Potter_008_PosterTen years of film-making culminates with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  After managing to destroy a couple of the Horacruxes and escaping the clutches of Bellatrix Lestrange, the trio realizes they need to return to Hogwarts.  But this is not so simple.  Snape is now Headmaster, Dementors patrol the grounds and Death Eaters are on the watch for Harry Potter.

They find themselves seeking the help of Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth. They were never aware of a brother, and he seems embittered towards his brother.  In the Trio’s absence, Neville Longbottom has rallied their fellow students to be ready for war against Voldemort.  Harry realizes what the final Horacruxes are.  He seeks one, while Hermione and Ron work on a plan to destroy the other. There is a large battle at the school, which Voldemort brings a halt to.  He promises to let everyone go if they only turn over Harry Potter.

But Harry realizes he must face Voldemort on his own.  This leads to a rather touching moment with our three heroes as it is clear, this may be the last time they ever see each other.

Part two, while a logical progression from the dark part one, is far more exciting and even fun.  The drama is more hopeful. The funny thing is, taken as a whole, both films work quite well. Part one feels less oppressive when directly followed up by part two (as opposed to the theatrical releases which were several months apart).

Part two brings the series to a close with a sense of hope and optimism.  There are many moments that are thoughtful next to the exciting battles. And yet, even split among two films, you feel like we don’t get enough of some of those favorite characters (such as Remus and Tonks). I enjoy the series and feel this film brings it all to a close quite nicely.

Oh Oh It’s Magic! PT7 um PT 1 (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, 2010)

225278id1g_HP7_27x40_1Sheet.inddFinding the world becoming more and more dangerous, Harry and his friends leave behind the muggle world.  We see them saying their goodbyes, or in the case of Hermione, tragically causing her non-magical parents to forget she even exists. Several members of the Order of the Phoenix arrive at the now empty Dursley residence for Harry. To protect him, several of the members take the polyjuice potion to assume the likeness of Harry, creating multiple Harrys.

There is an attack by Voldemort and his Death Eaters, but with one exception, all arrive safely at the Weasleys.  There is a wedding for oldest Weasley Percy and Fleur.  The head of the Ministry of Magic arrives to deliver Dumbledore’s last will and testament.  He leaves a gift for Harry, one for Hermione and one for Ron. Harry receives the Golden Snitch he caught in the first film.  Ron receives Dumbledore’s De-lluminator (last seen in the first film)and Hermione is given a storybook.

At the wedding, there is an announcement from the Ministry that it has fallen into the hands of Voldemort.  Harry, Hermione, and Ron flee together. Rather than return to Hogwarts, the three dedicate themselves to tracking down and destroying the remaining Horacruxes. As the Half-Blood Prince explained, these are objects in which a wizard has put a portion of their soul. This involves murder, making it an especially heinous form of magic.  Only by destroying these objects can Voldemort be truly vulnerable.

The Deathly Hallows kicked off a trend in movies adapted from book series.  When it was announced that they were going to split the film into two parts, some felt it was merely a cash grab.  And while I won’t disagree that there was surely an element of that from the studio, I also feel it would have seriously hampered the series to try and force the story into a single film.

There are some notable moments, for instance, there is a terrific animated sequence that tells the story of the “Deathly Hallows”.  Radcliff and Watson are really quite good in this film.  And yet, Part one struggles a bit as an independent film.  It is rather slow at points, focusing on the bleak and hopeless tone.  It is, at times, incredibly oppressive. And while it ends with a somewhat exciting escape, it still is kind of hard to enjoy the film on its own.    But more on this in Part 2.

Oh Oh It’s Magic! PT 6 (Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, 2009)

Harry_Potter_006_PosterNow that the magical world knows Harry and Dumbledore were, in fact, correct and the Voldemort is back, the Death Eaters are becoming bolder than ever, going as far as to attack the non-magical world.  Harry is hesitant about returning to Hogwarts, but Dumbledore convinces him and uses Harry to entice another professor back to Hogwarts.

Horace Slughorn is the new potions teacher, but this is not the true reason he is wanted back at Hogwarts.  You see, Horace is a bit obsessed with celebrity.  He is drawn to star pupils. One of those pupils was Tom Riddle, who came to Slughorn for information on very dark magic. But his memory is muddled, and Dumbledore hopes Harry can get the information from him.

In the meantime, Harry has found a potions book for his class that is marked as the property of the Half-Blood Prince. It features shortcuts to success and unique hand-written spells.  Harry, Hermione, and Ron try and figure out why Draco Malfoy seems to be behaving very mysteriously. Harry suspects that Malfoy is behind several incidents with cursed items.

The film also builds on the seeds of a budding relationship between Ron and Hermione and introduces an “unexpected” love interest in Jenny Weasley.  The films actually started seeding this awhile back, with Jenny clearly having a school girl crush on him, very visible anytime she was around. Thankfully, the film avoids the book’s annoying “Spider-Man Ending.”  In the book, Harry gets all, “I cannot have love, for that puts people in danger”.  The film tosses this aside.which is a wise move.

The visual look of the film is matching the darker tone of the book.  David Yates uses a darker and at times duller pallet, but to the benefit of the film’s atmosphere. The film ends on a grim note, but effective in it’s set up for the final arc of Harry Potter.

The cast is, as always, quite strong. This film features the best chemistry between Radcliff and Gambon.  As Horace Slughorn, Jim Broadbent is both likable and sad, in you realize his desire to be admired is overpowering to the point that it has brought great sadness to his life.  And Tom Felton is a real standout, with this film elevating Draco Malfoy from entitled snob to a very conflicted kid.  He really sells the notion that Draco is not as enamored with the life of a Death Eater as he portrays.

This is, in my opinion, one of the strongest of all the Harry Potter films.

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